Optimizing an Image for Search Engines is one of the most vital things you should look for while doing SEO. The methods to optimize an Image for search engines are sometimes called Image SEO.
As per an HTTP Archive report, images constitute to around 21% of the total webpage’s weight.
So, images are the great resource to optimize (or market) as it constitutes to around 21% of the total weight of your website. Also, if you consider the server resource as a limited and costly thing to manage.
Now, while images are one of the most important things to optimize on a website, it’s not a rocket science to market it for search engines.
Here, we are going to share some tips that you should consider while doing Image SEO and make it friendly for search engines.
Image SEO Tips
Below, I am sharing some tips that you must consider while doing Image SEO. Following these tips will not just improve your image ranking on the search engine (which leads to more visits on your website) but also help you save some server resources.
As I share a stat about Image size above that says Image occupies 21% of the total web page size.
Hence, size is one of the most important factors to consider while optimizing an image for search engines.
The lesser and more qualitative an image size is, the better will be its experience and performance on the user’s device.
Now, you might be thinking, how to optimize the image size?
There are different ways to optimize the image size like compressing its quality or converting it from one file format to another. However, here I am talking about How to decrease the image size without converting it to another file format or compressing its quality.
Well, there is a way and that’s called removing the metadata of an image.
When an image is clicked it stores different unnecessary data which is called EXIF data. The Exif data contains information like copyright, GPS, Comments, keywords etc. Most of these data are of no use for search engine ranking.
Then, it’s better to remove such data (like EXIF Data) from an image.
If you are using WordPress as the CMS for your website, there are several plugins that can help you easily remove EXIF data in bulk. For example, you can use plugins like Optimus.io, Ewww Image Optimizer.
However, if you have custom built your website, then you can use an online tool like EXIF Purge.
Another vital thing to consider while optimizing an image for a search engine is Image Format.
The proper image is super important as it not just helps to optimize the image size but also improves the user’s experience.
For example, images that have a transparent background should be in png format. Also, PNG format has a shield from lossless compression which means it doesn’t matter how many times you edit and save the file, it won’t become blurry and distorted. That’s the reason PNG format works best when we use logos, or sharp designs that have so many objects.
JPG format on the other hand performs best when we use general photos or screenshots that contain so many details. But why? Well, JPG image format has a nature that helps it to decrease the image loading time. While loading an image, it selectively deletes the elements of a photo (that happens only while loading the image), resulting in decreasing the image loading time.
Similarly, you can use GIF when you want to showcase an animation (but make sure to compress it as well), use .ico file format for favicon, web fonts instead of placing text within images (web fonts look better when scaled and also take less space).
In the year 2010, Google introduced an image format called WebP that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web.
WebP provides smaller and richer images that load faster on the web.
When applying lossless compression, WebP becomes 26% smaller in comparison to PNG (but the quality will be the same). Similarly, when applying lossy compression, WebP becomes 25-34% smaller in comparison to JPEG.
So, WebP is another format to consider while planning to use an image for the web.
As I said above, Image is one of the biggest resources of a webpage, hence it is obvious to have the highest loading time.
In fact, if you perfectly optimize the image load time, then your website load time will improve drastically.
Now, there are different methods you can use to decrease the image load time.
For example, you can use the Content Delivery Network (CDN) to serve images from the global data centers nearest to the user.
This method will not just reduce the image load time but also decrease your server’s overhead of serving so many of these images.
There are different CDN services available that help you to serve images from a private server. If you are using WordPress then you can benefit from Jetpack’s free image CDN. You can also use different plugins like as I mentioned above “Optimus.io”, EWWW Image Optimizer and so on. However, these plugins offer image CDN facility on the paid plan.
In addition to using the CDN, you can also use the lazy loading technique.
In lazy loading technique, the browser waits to load certain parts of a webpage (especially images and iframes), until they are needed. Instead of loading everything at once (which is called eager loading), the browser loads those elements of a webpage at first through which the user interacts.
Read also: WordPress 5.9 Improves Lazy Loading
There is one more technique which you can use to improve images loading time on your website.
The technique is called Browser Caching.
When you use browser caching, your website is asking the visitor’s browser to store certain files (that contains images as well) on the local cache of the user’s device. So that the users don’t have to download these files every time they visit your website.
You can use the WPRocket Plugin (a paid one) to easily apply lazy loading and browser caching on the images of your WordPress website.
Image compression is a process to minimize image size without degrading its quality.
When we compress the image we either remove certain bytes of information from the image or can rewrite it (using certain algorithms) in a way, so that it can take less storage space.
There are different image compression techniques that we can use as per our need to properly compress the image.
For example, we can use the lossy compression technique to remove unnecessary information from the image to make it smaller. Some popular image formats that support lossy compression are JPEG, WebP, HEIF.
In addition to lossy compression, you can use the lossless compression when you don’t want to lose any information from the image but decrease its size. Well, in that case, there are some image formats that support lossless compression, for example, PNG, GIF, BMP, and RAW images. The lossless compression uses the mathematical algorithms to rewrite an image file without removing any information.
If you are using a WordPress plugin then, use one that compresses and optimizes images externally on their servers. This will reduce overhead on your server.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any free service to compress and serve images from a seperate server. But, there are some paid ones like you can use Cloudflare or can use the Optimus.io plugin.
Now, while all the above set of things improves the image performance and experience for the user which in turn will drastically improve the image ranking on search engines.
There are some SEO techniques as well to improve image ranking and that is hidden on the image documentation part.
Yes, by writing the keyword rich image title, name, alt text and description, you can skyrocket the image ranking.
In my experience, I saw many webmasters don’t properly name the image file. Image with a proper name, in fact keyword rich names are more intended to rank on search engines.
Similarly, users don’t fill up the image title, alt text and its description which are super important to rank on image rich search engines like Google Images.
So, proper documentation improves your website’s image fermentation on the search engines.
Last but not the least, most webmasters know very well about the importance of website architecture, which signifies, the more your website is arranged properly like a book, the more it will become easier for the visitors to understand it.
I mean when a visitor opens your website, you are not there to explain everything to him.
Hence, it is better to make it simpler by default to understand it better.
And there isn’t any more effective way to create it without a superb website architecture.
Now, while most webmasters know the importance of website architecture, they limit it for web pages only, not the resources used in the webpage.
Just like a website’s architecture, image architecture also matters.
You can use the concept of internal linking in the captions of related images. This way, two or more images that are related somehow to each other get linked internally on your website to create a great user experience. Or you can use image galleries on your website by categorizing it.
You can think and test more such experiences to enhance user experience on your website.
So, that is all about Image SEO. If you know some other technique that improves the image performance in terms of SEO then feel free to let us know about the same in the comments down below.